CR's Nancy Klosek recently conducted a wide-ranging interview with new CEDIA President Andy Willcox, who also serves as president of ProLine Integrated Systems in Highland Park, Ill.
Custom Retailer: As a founding member of CEDIA, you have a unique perspective on how the organization has evolved to accommodate changing industry needs while addressing new issues that arise each year. In your tenure as CEDIA president, what do you hope to preserve in the way the organization serves its membership, and what new directions do you hope to explore?
Andy Willcox: I'm very happy with what's been created in the past five years. There's been a great deal of progress on the educational side and on the certification side of our initiatives. The dual-tiered membership standard is a good thing, and it's necessary, because one of our key missions is not necessarily to grow the size of the organization, but more to improve the quality of the businesses that are members through best business practices—helping them become true business owners. Like any other business in the world, you need to understand administrative, financial, human resources, sales and marketing areas, and not merely be great technicians and designers. That's one of the things that really concerns us—the success and existence of our grassroots and cottage industry members of the future. They're individual, entrepreneurial members and they need to be in touch with what's going on in their marketplaces and how things are evolving…There is going to be attrition, and if you want to survive, you'll have to re-evaluate everything you do.
CR: The hybrid custom installer/A/V specialist possesses many of the qualities that make a good CEDIA member, but many who've crossed over admit they still rely heavily on service models for many aspects of their businesses that worked well enough for retail but need to be modified for doing business on the custom side. How is CEDIA helping these hybrids successfully cross over?